CASE takes top prizes

FIU received global recognition by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for communications projects surrounding two major environmental initiatives.

FIU was awarded a gold and bronze award during the 2021 Circle of Excellence Awards for campaigns led by the communications team in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education to promote major research efforts — Global FinPrint and saving Biscayne Bay — in the Institute of Environment

The advocacy campaign began in August 2020 when dead fish started surfacing in Biscayne Bay. High water temperatures coupled with high concentrations of phosphorus sent the bay into respiratory distress. FIU research teams of faculty, staff, and students responded immediately, deploying special autonomous surface vessels to measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll to better understand what was happening and what was needed to stop it.

The college communications team, outreach and advocacy professionals in the Institute of Environment and the Division of External Relations, Strategic Communications and Marketing set out to raise awareness and advocate for improved protections at local and state levels.

FIU scientists appeared in more than 200 news reports including on local affiliates for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, WLRN, as well as Spanish-language media. The university hosted a town hall for the community, collaborated with WPLG 10 on a primetime special hosted by environmental advocate Louis Aguirre and co-hosted a Facebook Live discussion with WPLG. The college launched a special webpage to make the FIU research more accessible. Grassroots efforts included outreach events and educational materials that were distributed to residences near the bay.

The judges for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education recognized FIU for its broad cross section of university teams involved in the project, as well as the extensive media coverage and strong outcomes to aid in bay awareness.

The media relations campaign for Global FinPrint was the culmination of a five-year scientific effort to identify hotspots and trouble spots for sharks and ray worldwide. The first results from the groundbreaking census were published in 2020. The project received core funding support from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the communications team in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education worked in a collaboration with the communications team at the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to develop and execute a unified Global FinPrint media campaign. The project resulted in 400 national and international media hits including features on CBS This Morning and the TODAY Show.

These winning projects are a direct result of FIU’s commitment to the environment and to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. FIU is ranked No. 11 in the world for Impact on Life Below Water by Times Higher Education because of the university’s commitment to water-related research and conservation.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Circle of Excellence Awards honor institutions worldwide whose staff have advanced their organizations through their resourcefulness and ingenuity. This year, winners were selected from over 3,000 entries from 530 institutions in 27 countries. For information, visit